Is Moving From SF To LA Career Sabotage?

By Max Brown, Founder, Silicon Beach Talent

Imagine you receive a lucrative job offer — with a significant equity position — to work on a passion project. This position will challenge you enough to make you excited to get up and drive to the office every workday. Craft beer and cold brew coffee are on tap in the well stocked kitchen. Your future coworkers are mature, respectful, and highly intelligent. The office location is mere steps from a popular yet pristine beach. Perks include generous maternity and paternity leave, along with free massages. But just before you sign the offer letter, you hesitate. This job is not in your Silicon Valley comfort zone. It’s in Los Angeles, aka Silicon Beach. And suddenly a nagging voice creeps from your subconscious into the forefront of your mind. Are you making a big mistake? Is this career sabotage?

The short answer? No.

For a long time, a prevailing philosophy in the bay area was that if you leave Silicon Valley for a job, and that opportunity doesn’t pan out, you’ll suffer a major career setback. You’ll be unable to find another job in the bay area, and the door to highly paid, innovative, industry-changing jobs would be shut forever. There were a couple factors that contributed to this fear: geographically siloed hiring, and the location of people willing to fund startups.

Geographically siloed hiring

If you look at historical hiring data, Silicon Valley has been known to be insular. With the exception of hiring new, young talent for a first or highly specialized job, people tend to hire friends, colleagues, and locals with strong loyalty to and experience in the bay area rather than search for ‘outsiders’ with commensurate or superior talent and experience.

Follow the money

Another factor was the location of venture capital, historically concentrated in Silicon Valley. And many venture capitalists required companies to be locally based. This is logical. For an investor, fund, or syndicate that invests in many risky, early stage, or pre-revenue companies, it’s prudent to keep a close eye on each portfolio investment. This way, you can course correct problems before they sink a company. It’s much easier to manage a large portfolio of such companies if those teams are in close proximity. If the capital is in the bay area, founders and innovators will follow the money. Therefore, if you moved out of the funding capital of the US, you distanced yourself from that network.

Changing tides

Recently, however, other cities in the United States like New York, Boston, San Diego and Los Angeles have contributed a significant percentage of venture capital investments to US totals. A recent study parsed the data even further to reveal that the fifth largest US zip code for venture capital investment was actually in San Diego. Since investment capital distribution has become more geographically diverse, there are more opportunities in cities outside the bay area, and Silicon Valley is no longer the only prominent startup ecosystem in the US.

Ultimately, one of the largest factors in this equation is the demand of skill set. Talent trumps location. If you are accomplished enough to be recruited out of Silicon Valley, then you have what it takes to be recruited back into it. If, on the other hand, you move to Los Angeles and would prefer to stay here, the continual rise of Silicon Beach as a tech and entrepreneurial hub offers an expanding pool of high caliber companies and people. With a significant uptick in capital here comes a marked increase in our local opportunities. Along with a culturally diverse community that is uniquely Los Angeles.

A job offer in Silicon Beach is not any riskier than an opportunity anywhere else. And it’s not career sabotage.


Originally published at siliconbeachtalent.com on February 15, 2017.